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With The Current Flu Epidemic Unfolding In The D.C.

Area, Should Howard Students Be Getting The Flu Shot?

By: Kierra Tobiere. January 30, 2013.

Lester Kidd crouched down by the server station in the kitchen of the District of Pi Pizzeria. He was in pain. He gazed over to the expo line and saw his customers pizzas ready for delivery. But the week-long battle with the flu had zapped his energy. His coworker, Francina Akuazaoku, saw Kidd and grew alarmed. She rushed to the CVS around the corner and came back with a Gatorade and vitamin C pills. Kidd, a sophomore at Howard University, was half way through his 11 pm shift at the Pi Pizzeria in Chinatown when he realized how serious his cold was becoming. Every time I coughed, my entire body shook,"he said."My chest was extra heavy and it was hard for me to breath. Im in the kitchen standing next to a 400 degree oven shivering with goose bumps. Its the flu affecting everybody, Kidd concluded. "If you had what I had, you wouldnt think it was common. This strain of the flu has the possibility to spread on campus, everywhere. Erin C. Snowden, the health educator for Howard University Student Health Center, said that college students are at particular risk for flu because of the close quarters they experience in dormitories, dining halls, and classrooms. People with respiratory illnesses such as asthma, compromised immune systems, and those who are pregnant are also at higher risk for getting the flu, Dr. Snowden added. The District of Columbias health department has reported 310 cases of the cold flu since the season began in late September but as of January 1st there have been 40 new cases added to that list, these numbers are alarming compared to the 97 cases reported from last flu season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta said in a flu advisory report of January 12th that 48 states have widespread influenza activity. Many states, including DC, Maryland and Virginia, have reported a shortage of flu vaccinations. But the CDC has reassured the public not to panic. Flu vaccine makers have been able to squeeze out 10 million more doses of the flu vaccine than expected, for a total of 145 million doses. As of the week ending Jan. 11, more than 129 million doses had been distributed the CDC told NBC News.

The Howard University Student Health Center does not offer student health reports to the public but released this statement, Getting a flu vaccination does not 100% guarantee that you will not become infected with the flu, but it does drastically reduce the chance that you will, and may also cause a person who does become infected to have lessened symptoms,. Cairo Henriques, a senior majoring in allied health, has been suffering from flu like symptoms for a month now, blaming her illness on crazy weather changes and improper dressing, but refuses to get the vaccination regardless of reports. I did not get the flu shot because there is always a different strain every year," Henrique said. "I do not like being infected by the virus. But Henriques confessed that the flu epidemic this season is a little bit scarier than usual. "My mother caught it and was bed ridden for a few days," she said. "My sister got the shot because my mother was sick. Also, people have died from it, but I am not getting a shot in the middle of flu season there is no point now. Dr. Mount Verner, head of the Emergency Room at Howard University, said that getting the flu shot is one of the most important things Howard students can do to fight the flu. He also assures students that the flu shot this year is more consistent with the strain that is actually out there."It would very likely work, Dr. Verner said. The Student Health Center is offering the flu vaccination in their offices between 8AM-5PM for $10, which students can charge to their student accounts. The Center is also recommending that students wash their hands regularly, avoiding touching their eyes, nose, and mouth and drink plenty of water. The Center is also recommending getting adequate sleep, coughing or sneezing into the bend of the arm, and getting a flu vaccination.
(Grade Received: A)